People are obsessed with judging how mother's dress their babies. The baby is NEVER appropriately dressed ("that baby should really have a snowsuit on," "that baby is getting overheated"). I have witnessed my own mother smugly mentioning under her breath that some stranger's baby is "crying because it's cold."
This has led me to dress Parker not as I feel he should be dressed, but as I presume others deem appropriate. This can be difficult because I am not a mind reader, but I can read facial expressions.
I have had 2 recent encounters with people very vocally judging my choice of clothing for my (that's right, MY) son.
Let me quickly preface this by saying it has been extremely warm in St. Louis for January...I'm talking 60s and 70s. So the other day I dress Parker in a long sleeved onesie and put a fleece snowsuit over him. The suit has mittens, feet, and a hood. I had his actual hat in my purse, but he hates wearing it and I decided he definitely didn't need it. The temperature was AT LEAST in the 50s, and sunny. This is the outfit he was wearing:
We head to Target and the whole shopping experience was the average pain in the butt it normally is. (Sidenote: I was SO excited when Parker started sitting up because it meant he could sit in a cart while out shopping and I wouldn't have to lug his car seat or stroller into every store. Lesson: Just because a baby is physically able to sit in a cart doesn't mean he prefers this over being held. ) So I check out and am walking back to my car when this 100 year old woman catches my eye, looks at Parker, and crosses the street toward me. I figured she was going to say how cute he was so I give her this big, STUPID smile. Then she totally blindsides me and lets me have it.
"Cover his head!"
Wow, this woman is NOT messing around. No polite "Maybe you should put a hat on him" or "his head might be cold" or even "don't you think you should cover his head?"...she goes straight to the command. Then she proceeds to say "Even I put this (lavender silk scarf) on my head before I got out of the car." OK time out...so this sentence is so funny I don't even know where to start. Let's disect it from the beginning.
"Even I" ...is she actually implying that she is in better physical health than my son, whose body is overrun with stem cells and who has a brand new immune system? "Even I", a million year old woman who weighs 80 pounds, who can barely walk, who gets winded having a conversation (which is the reason for the short and sweet command "cover his head" in the first place), who's body is waving a white flag at infection ("f this...we give up! I mean she doesn't need us to fight her infection, she has her head scarf")..."even I covered my head".
Which leads to what she covered her head with: the silk scarf. It's doing nothing to keep your head warm lady. It is completely sheer. In fact, it's not even touching your head, it's simply holding the top of your white boufant hairdo in place...and let's be honest, THAT was the real reason you put it on your head in the first place. You did not put it on your head to keep your head warm. I know this because no sane person uses a glorified handkerchief for this purpose, they use an actual HAT.
And the last part of the sentence: before I got out of the car. This woman is barely alive. I mean, I am all about the elderly maintaining their independence, but not at the expense of society as a whole. Whyyyyyy are you behind the wheel?
So we all know I'm too much of a chicken to actually be rude to this woman and explain to her that I went to school for a very long time, and one of the things I learned while obtaining my MD was that being cold, or even being wet AND cold, does not cause any type of respiratory illness (worst case you die of hypothermia, but never pneumonia)**. I wanted to tell her that I could strip my son naked, dunk him in cold water, walk from the store's exit to my car, and he would still not get sick. He would only be very pissed off. Which leads to the last thing I wanted to say to this lady...did my smiling, happy son somehow indicate to you that he was the least bit uncomfortable?
What did I actually say to her once I wiped that stupid smile off my face? "Thanks for the advice." And I pulled on Parker's hood and walked away. After all, she had good intentions I suppose. Plus she was just so old.
This is getting kind of long, but the second incident involved a woman who mentioned to her husband "Isn't it a little cold to bring a baby out?" We were at the botanical gardens, but the displays are indoors. This really made me angry...at least the old lady at Target came right up to me and got to the point. She wasn't passive aggressive about it. Am I supposed to just stay indoors the entire fall, winter, and spring season? This lady didn't care how appropriately dressed Parker was, she wasn't commenting on his clothes. She was commenting on him being out of the house at all. And, let me tell you, Parker was uncomfortably cold and HATING every minute of it:
Taking the high road SUCKS.
**For those of you who are smart enough to realize that Parker got sick a day or so following the Target lady, rest assured this is pure coincidence. Parker had a playdate with a very snotty toddler a few days prior to Target lady.